Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: May 21, 2008

HOPING TO ATTRACT more recession-wary Americans, Mexico in June will begin reimbursing the value-added tax charged on purchases made at stores and businesses throughout the country to tourists who arrive by air and cruise ship. Mexico's Ministry of Tourism said in a statement that starting in June tourists will be able to use kiosks at five major airports -- Mexico City, Cancun, Guadalajara, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta -- to reclaim the 15% VAT they've paid on goods totaling at least $115 (1,200 Mexican pesos). In order to qualify for the refund, the purchases must have been made at approved stores and businesses with credit cards or debit cards issued outside of Mexico, or in cash. Tourists must present their passports when making their purchases and obtain a receipt and an official refund form from the approved merchant. The tax credit will apply to shopping, not to purchases on meals and lodging. Visitors will be able to get half of the VAT in Mexican pesos, up to a maximum of $955 (10,000 Mexican pesos). The rest will be credited electronically to visitors' credit cards or bank accounts within 40 days. Starting in 2009, the program will be phased in at other major airports as well as at cruise ports. The more than 21 million tourists who visited Mexico in 2007 spent $13 billion, making tourism the country's third most important source of revenue.

MEXICO'S TOURISM REVENUE during the first quarter of this year totaled $4.24 billion, up 7.1% from the same period in 2007, the Tourism Ministry reported. The 5.7 million tourists who came to Mexico from January to March this year represented a 6.4% increase compared with the same period last year. Tourist spending also rose, by 3.5%, to an average of $830 per person during the first three months of the year.

REAL RESORTS, which operates five all-inclusive resorts in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, launched a beach restoration project designed to reclaim beachfront lost to recent storms and hurricanes. The first step of the beach restoration was completed on May 14 at the Gran Caribe Real resort in Cancun and involved the creation of a breakwater reef system to protect the beach from erosion. The initiative is part of a larger beach restoration program funded through a state, federal and local partnership. Real Resorts owns and operates resorts in Mexico under the Royal, Gran and Real brands. Call (800) 543-7556 or visit www.realresorts.com.

MEANWHILE, Real Resorts, launched a "More for 4" travel agent initiative that pays agents a $50 bonus for every booking of four nights or longer at either the Royal in Cancun or the Royal in Playa del Carmen. In addition, for every 10 suites booked, agents will receive a $250 bonus. Bookings must be made by June 30 for travel through Dec. 22, 2009. Agents can e-mail [email protected] for information or to request a booking form.

TWO HOTEL COMPANIES, El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels and Azul Hotels by Karisma launched a "Four Diamond" summer promotion for customers who book a minimum four-night stay by July 9 for stays June 15 to Aug. 31. Under the promotion, guests will receive an upgrade to a suite, a $50 spa credit, a $50 dining credit for a dinner on the beach, a $50 credit for wine purchases and a $50 credit for a tour of Chichen Itza. Room rates start at $207 per person, per night at the Azul Beach Hotel by Karisma. Call (866) 527-4762 or visit www.karismahotels.com.

Mexico E-Letter Editor: Jorge Sidron
Phone:
(973) 898-0011
[email protected]
For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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